Enrollment at public graduate schools increased by 2 percent this fall even as enrollment at undergraduate institutions declined during the pandemic, according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service. Private graduate school enrollment has remained flat.
“The share of graduate students as part of overall enrollment has grown over the last decade,” Dan Fiori, associate analyst at Moody’s, said in a press release. “Universities are poised to bolster enrollment through online programs that expand reach while demand for more traditional degrees will remain strong with demonstrated benefits in employment opportunities. As online learning grows into a more respected educational platform, it has garnered increasing graduate student demand regardless of institution type.”
Graduate programs will continue to help diversify revenue streams for institutions, especially those that rely heavily on tuition revenue in their operating budgets, the report said. Graduate programs also attract international students, who typically pay full tuition, although competition for international students is on the rise.
Traditional graduate programs may face greater competition from less expensive alternative credential programs that take less time to complete. Demand for graduate programs is also threatened by increasing student debt, which stands to lower the return on investment for a graduate degree for students.